Developer: Alex Dantis
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4S
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Replay Value Rating:
Rhythm games and iOS devices seem like the perfect match. After all, this pairing giving the games an endless list of songs to choose from and they are all songs the player already knows they like. Synesthetic may not be the most engaging game, but as a personal visual musical experience it is definitely worth a try.
After a brief preparation, any song in a user’s device can be played. Instead of having players tap notes on rhythm or something else more traditional, Synesthetic turns each track into a drugged-fueled thrill ride like a crazier version of Audiosurf. The song determines the speed of the track, how bumpy it is and where to place the gates and obstacles. Players simply tilt left and right, or use touch controls, to avoid danger and keep on grooving.
There are three different game modes that change up things like the rules of survival and how the combo and scoring system works. However, there’s never much interaction involved. Some songs are harder than others but a convenient shadow mechanic lets players know pretty far in advance when and where they need to start turning. Even when players do get hit though it’s not that big a deal seeing as there is no failure. It’s about the music, not winning.
However, as with many rhythm games that use the player’s own music, there are times when the beats of the track only vaguely seem to match with the beats of the songs themselves. That’s a bigger issue. When they do sync though, it’s an experience as beautiful and transcendental as it is strange and wonderfully horrifying due to the impressive neon techno visuals.
Those visuals really are what make the whole thing work. Every time players start a song they get another chance to witness the crisp, vibrant, morphing, exploding nonsense happening in the background. Players can even adjust the colors, light levels, and motion blur effects. In fact, the biggest punishment for failure is being forced to watch the background literally fade into a pale imitation of its former self.
Synesthetic does not always work as a game. However, it works enough of the time that when viewed as a mildly playable, trippy musical visualizer, it shines.